RIO COMMUNITIESA Los Lunas man has been arrested and charged with an open count of first-degree murder in relation to a shooting death in Rio Communities shortly after the new year began. 

Florentino Rodriguez, 42, was arrested on Feb. 11 and charged in the death of Anthony Gutierrez, 42, of Los Chavez. 

Valencia County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Joseph Rowland said after a pretrial detention hearing in district court on Feb. 15, 13th Judicial District Court Judge Cindy Mercer ordered Rodriguez be detained at the Valencia County Detention Center pending his trial. 

When deputies arrived at the scene on the corner of N.M. 47 and Horner Street, at about 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 3, a witness said he heard about three gunshots, and saw a black Jeep leave the area eastbound on Horner Street. He then saw a man laying on the street. When he asked the man on the ground if he was OK, he didn’t respond, so the witness called 911. 

Shortly after the shooting, a homeowner on Howell Street reported an unknown black Jeep parked in their driveway with the engine still running and what appeared to be a bullet hole in the driver’s side window. During the search of the Jeep, suspected blood was found on the front driver side door and side of the seat. 

When the owner of the Jeep was located, he told investigators he’d lent the 2017 Jeep to Gutierrez the day before the shooting.  

According to a man who lives on Goddard, where Gutierrez had parked his red 2003 Ford F-150 at his home three weeks prior due to mechanical issues, Gutierrez, while driving the black Jeep, stopped by the house to check on his vehicle on Jan. 3 and said a man identified by the street name of “Tino” was in the Jeep. The man said he remembers Gutierrez saying they were headed to a woman’s house for money. 

During the investigation, detectives learned a call was made from Gutierrez’s cell phone at 2:39 p.m., the day of the shooting. When the woman who received the last call from the victim’s phone was interviewed, she told investigators she didn’t know Gutierrez at all. 

“She remembers receiving a phone call from an unknown number on the day of the incident, some time after noon,” the complaint reads. “(The woman) said she recalls answering it, but no one spoke, so she hung up.” 

The woman, later identified by Rodriguez as his aunt, also told officers Rodriguez, who she said she hadn’t seen since some time in October 2023, came to the house she was at in Rio Communities the day of the shooting after it had occurred. He reportedly asked her for money but she didn’t have any so she agreed to get cash from the bank when she was able and Rodriguez left. 

Later that day, she  reportedly went to the bank in Rio Communities and withdrew $20. She told officers “Florentino showed up suddenly at the bank …” so she gave him the money and left. 

A search of her phone showed a text message from Rodriguez that indicated he was in Roswell on Jan. 20. Additional texts from Rodriguez to the woman reading, “I need to talk to you” and “Can I call you” were sent at about 4:38 p.m. on the day of the homicide. 

The complaint also notes Rodriguez’s phone was in the Los Lunas area, where he resides, during the entire time of the homicide and then begins to travel to Roswell a few hours after the homicide. 

Addresses for Rodriguez in Roswell were confirmed and VCSO detectives reached out to the Roswell Police Department on Feb. 2. Rodriguez was in RPD custody in connection to an armed robbery and during a search of the location where he was found, Roswell detectives recovered multiple cell phones and a tablet, as well as a .45ACP caliber handgun. 

VCSO Detective Rashad Pearson and Sgt. Ben Lankasky traveled to Roswell to interview Rodriguez. Before he could be read his full Miranda Rights, Rodriguez provided information to the officers that put him at the scene of the crime. 

“… he knew the only reason why we were making contact with him was because he made a call on Anthony’s phone to his aunt,” the complain reads. “Let it be noted, this call shows to be outgoing at (2:39 p.m.) and the first documented call for service was at (2:45 p.m.) … This places that outgoing phone call, made from a phone found lying next to the victim with blood on it, in extremely close proximity to the moment that the shots were fired.” 

According to the criminal complaint, investigators found multiple bullet casings near Gutierrez’s body, as well as personal belongings, including a cell phone. There were also three shell casings found on the passenger side of the Jeep.  

During the autopsy performed on Jan. 4, the Office of the Medical Investigator found multiple gunshot wounds on the victim’s body.  

Rodriguez told Pearson and Lankasky that Gutierrez owed him $15. On the day of the shooting, he claims Gutierrez picked him up, took him to his aunt’s house, picked up the money and was then dropped off by Gutierrez. 

His recounting of the time line of when he saw his aunt contradicts her statement, since she said Rodriguez stopped by after the homicide, “making it impossible that Anthony had accompanied Florentino to her home,” the complaint reads. 

What’s your Reaction?

Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.